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GETTING THERE: Study considers new Rappahannock River bridge

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The Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking into the possibility of adding another bridge crossing the Rappahannock River.

The subject was part of the discussion about an east–west corridor study at last week’s FAMPO Policy Committee meeting.

While two new spans have been added over the Rappahannock River on Interstate 95 as part of a widening project, adding a new river crossing elsewhere has been debated for years, with most of that focus zeroing in on an “outer connector.”

FAMPO began studying a new river crossing at the urging of Stafford County and Fredericksburg officials. A few details were included in the east–west corridor study being conducted by a consultant.

In the study, the “assumed” location for the crossing is Celebrate Virginia Parkway in Stafford, with the bridge connecting to Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard in Fredericksburg on the south side of the river.

Celebrate Virginia Parkway in Stafford is a four-lane, divided road running through a large residential development off of U.S. 17. Several people who live in the development told the committee they didn’t want a crossing built there because of the traffic it would bring.

The river crossing plan would include an I–95 interchange one mile north of the State Route 3 exit, near the Welcome Center and rest area. That interchange would take traffic to a new road connecting to Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard.

A brief synopsis in the study notes that “this interchange achieves its largest goals when combined with the river crossing, but each could be implemented over time and separately.”

It’s important to note that “multiple locations are being investigated as solutions” for a new bridge, FAMPO Administrator Ian Ollis told the policy committee at the Nov. 28 meeting. The location used for the discussion is a “holding position for the model to tell us how the congestion impacts would turn out.”

Data compiled by the consultant working on the east-west corridor study estimated the cost and potential impacts of the river crossing.

The new span and interchange would cost between $300 million and $400 million. The estimated impacts show congestion decreases on U.S. 17 (-10%) and Fall Hill Avenue (-12%) and slightly increased congestion on State Route 3 (+1%) and Cowan Boulevard (+2%).

Ollis told the committee FAMPO staff will continue work on the bridge study and produce a report on its findings.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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